sep 182012

Den iranske Ayatollah Hassan Sanei, der er leder af en magtfuld statslig velgørenhedsfond, har forhøjet dusøren for at dræbe forfatteren til '"De sataniske vers" med knap to millioner kroner. Dermed er dusøren tæt på 19 millioner kroner.I 1989 udstedte den nu afdøde iranske åndelige leder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, en dødsfatwa mod Salman Rushdie, efter han havde forfattet bogen "De sataniske vers". Khomeini mente, at bogen var blasfemi.

Men efter kraftig international kritik blev fatwaen mod Rushdie trukket tilbage af det iranske styre, der lovede, at den ikke blev håndhævet. Det mener Ayatollah Hassan Sanei nu er en fejl.

- Hvis imamens ordre var blevet udført, ville de videre konsekvenser i form af karikaturer, artikler og film aldrig være blevet til virkelighed, siger Ayatollah Hassan Sanei til flere medier.

Salman Rushdie måtte i mange år leve under jorden som følge af fatwaen. Han har netop udgivet en erindringsbog, der fokuserer på denne periode.

Dansk PEN skal hermed udtrykke sin protest over den fornyede attentattrussel, som den forhøjede dusør repræsenterer. Dansk PEN tilslutter sig den følgende udtalelse fra Engelsk PEN i solidaritet med Salman Rushdie

Statement from English PEN on renewed threat to Salman Rushdie

English PEN deplores the statement of Iranian cleric Ayatollah Hassan Sane'i of the 15 Khordad Foundation, which constitutes a new threat to the life of Salman Rushdie. 

Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, said: 'This is a cynical attempt to exploit the violence of the past week.  It seeks to incite murder, sow division and further escalate an international controversy.

We support the liberty of writers everywhere to explore and question ideas, including the discussion of religion, without facing any risk to their own life or to the lives of those who publish or translate their work.'

Writers and members of PEN expressed their support today for Salman Rushdie.

Lisa Appignanesi:  ‘As it was in 1989, the banner of “blasphemy” masks blatant bids for power. Yet again a novelist is being used by politicians in their political machinations.  Rushdie needs vocal support from anyone who believes in the good that free expression and unhindered imagination bring to our societies. The film that has caused this round of unrest is an insult to everyone’s intelligence, but the means of combatting that is more intelligence, not threats of reinstated fatwas and killings.’

Hanif Kureishi:  ‘Through his extraordinary books and bravery in the face of intolerance, Salman Rushdie has shown the world that literature and free speech can never be taken for granted.  Authors must be free to ask challenging questions and speak truth to power.  It is imperative that we defend Rushdie’s right to free expression without fear, for his freedom is the freedom of all writers, everywhere.’

Fay Weldon: ‘Twenty years ago the fatwa extended to publishers, printers, critics, translators, and the threat of violence  was a fairly  successful attempt to silence writers,  Salman today, tomorrow the rest of us. A united front of defiance is essential. Appeasement is no answer, and why we drifted into the trouble we are in today.’

For more information and media comment, please contact Jo Glanville on 020 7324 2541 or 07713 020971 e-mail:


  • The 15 Khordad Foundation is an Iranian Religious Foundation.  Its name refers to a date in the Iranian religious calendar, corresponding to the events of June 1963 when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni was arrested by the Government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.  The Foundation initially issued a US$1 Million reward for the death of Salman Rushdie on 14th February 1989, the day that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni issued the fatwa against Rushdie.  The reward offered was periodically increased during the fatwa years.   However, when the Iranian Government announced in 1998 that it would no longer seek the death of Rushdie, the bounty offered by the Foundation remained in place, with Hassan Sane'i reaffirming that that it would pay the reward to anyone who succeeded in carrying out the fatwa.  The reward was increased to US$2.8 Million in 1999, and to US$3 million in 2003.  In his latest statement, Ayatollah Hassan Sane'i increased the reward offered, and said that "these days are the most appropriate time to carry it [the murder] out".
  • English PEN is the founding centre of PEN International, a world-wide association of authors and literary professionals, promoting free speech and literature around the world.
  • Salman Rushdie received the 2010 Golden PEN award from the board of English PEN.  You can watch his acceptance speech online.
sep 122012



10th September 2012


PEN Members from over 80 countries around the world gather for prominent literary gathering – The 78th PEN International Congress

Gyeongju, Korea – Over 300 delegates have gathered in Korea’s historical city Gyeongju for the 78th PEN International Congress. The Congress was launched by host centre President Gil-Won Lee, which this year explores themes around Literature, Media and Human Rights.

PEN’s diverse and unique community of writers and members gather each year to share ideas, discuss new campaigns and initiatives, highlight emerging issues and challenges to freedom of expression around the world.

The Congress will see keynote speeches by Nobel Laureates Wole Soyinka and Jean Marie Gustave Le Clezio as well as training sessions and workshops, lectures, literary events and networking sessions. The annual congress is an opportunity for members from all centers to share their diverse expertise and experience.

In his opening speech, PEN International President John Ralston Saul echoed the core purpose of PEN around the world:

“Through all of [our] work we must constantly remind ourselves that our cause is literature.  Literature and freedom of expression are neither a nicety nor a legal technicality.  They are a way of imagining  the relationship between peoples.  Between people.  People who may disagree or dislike each other or, in fact, know nothing about each other.”

At the opening Ceremony, PEN International announced its Declaration on Free Expression and Digital Technologies, which will address concerns around digital technology, particularly freedom of expression through digital media.

PEN plays a global role in promoting literature and protecting freedom of expression.

PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, our global community of writers now comprises 144 Centres spanning more than 100 countries. Our programmes, campaigns, events and publications connect writers and readers for global solidarity and cooperation. PEN International is a non-political organization and holds consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO.

For press and other enquiries please contact:

PEN International Campaigns & Communications Manager Sahar Halaimzai.


Tel: +44 (0)20 7405 0338

Mob: +44 (0)7596 767912


Celebrating 90 years of promoting literature and defending freedom of expression

International PEN is trading as PEN International. International PEN is a company registered in England and Wales with registration number 05683997. International PEN is a registered charity in England and Wales with registration number 1117088. International PEN’s registered office is Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6ER, UK.




sep 122012

I disse dage afholder PEN-centre fra hele verden PEN’s 78. internationale kongres. Det sker i Gyeongju i Sydkorea. Dansk PEN offentliggør hermed den internationale præsident, den canadiske forfatter John Ralston Sauls åbningstale - et markant udsagn om PEN‘s arbejde og værdigrundlag. Læs mere om verdenskongressen her




This is a remarkable city. I have been coming to Gyeongju for fifteen years. It is a city not only of history but of ideas; a city built on the idea of a humanist civilization, both Buddhist and Confucian. I think often, wherever I am in the world, of The Divine Bell of the Great King Seong Deok from the 8th Century, which sits a short distance from here. It is covered in script: the philosophy of the day. “The Absolute Truth”, it says, “embraces all of creation, here and beyond. We cannot see its real form, nor can we trace the path to its origin”. Here is a profoundly anti-ideological idea; an idea of doubt and of creativity, which writers can embrace today. And then this line: “The people [of the Silla Kingdom] admired literature and art over gold and jade”.

Here is an idea which would mystify many of those who control policy around the world today – the belief that the imagination needs to trump mere self interest.

PEN is stronger in its 91st year than is has ever been. Why? Because we function on the fundamental principle of the Divine Bell. Creativity, imagination, language may be forbidden, battered, turned into propaganda in the short term. But creativity, the imagination, prevail.

I say this even if over 800 of our colleagues are in prison or in danger. We prevail because we recover from all blows, even as the lives of writers – our colleagues – our members - are lost or ruined. Autocrats have their moment, but as Ko Un put it:

“That dog that'll die tomorrow, doesn't know it's going to die. It's barking fiercely”.

There is a central point about literature and its freedom of expression that must be continually reiterated. These words may contain beauty, be transformative, or offer pleasure or innocent thrills or anything else.

But there is nothing inherently respectable about us or about literature or about freedom of expression. Literature is not designed to reassure or to make people comfortable. That is the role of propaganda in all its forms.

Literature is thousands of years of making people uncomfortable, of encouraging uncertainty – whether in public or private lives. That is its strength. Literature is not about smoothness or agreement. We may cause discomfort or shock in any number of ways, whether in love or families, politics or religion. Civilizations at their best are built with the consciousness of discomfort. As for us, in Wole Soyinka's words - “I -we- have failed in [our] ambition to grow old gracefully”.

I am insisting on this because today we see three young women -Pussy Riot - imprisoned for long terms in Russia. What for? For disturbing the peace. Nothing more. Our member and former Centre President, Liu Xiaobo, remains unjustly in prison in China, along with many others, for disturbing the

status quo. Treason laws are proliferating around the world and being used to silence and jail writers who are saying less than what I am saying here today.

This is the fundamental and eternal challenge to literature which comes from power; what Jean-Marie Le Clézio describes as “la destruction des mythes par un désir de puissance”.

The result is that many of our thousands of members, here in this room and around the world, famous and unknown, must begin each day asking, as Lee Gil-won asks:

“Are we not those who have nothing more to lose? When the plowed earth shows its inner flesh. Let us at least plant some scallion roots”.

These scallion roots, these words, are our force. Yes, of course, PEN excels in diplomacy. We struggle to keep writers alive, to free them – whether they are Nobel Laureates or teenage bloggers. Some of those bloggers who changed the regime in Tunisia are now rebuilding our PEN Centre there. Others, formal writers or bloggers, are on the line of greatest danger in Syria. We work endlessly to convince governments that they are capable of acting better – I will admit, a tiring business. We work for dialogue – words, more words – because that is the road away from conflict, towards peace. We defend languages in trouble through The Girona Manifesto. We work for a growth in translations because this is central to free expression – to understanding across linguistic barriers. What we do assumes the value of minority opinions and of cultures which find themselves in a minority.

At this Congress we will try to adopt an historic declaration on Digital Rights in order to establish ethical parameters in this new world of communications. We will be asked to create a new Centre for North Korean writers in exile. We will continue strengthening our work with literature in schools, especially in Africa; developing free expression summer schools, beginning in Bishkek in Central Asia.

Our 144 Centres in over 100 countries mean that we can be an Asian centered organization. Today the centre of PEN International is here in Gyeongju. On another day we could be centered anywhere else in the world.

But through all of this work we must constantly remind ourselves that our cause is literature. Literature and freedom of expression are neither a nicety nor a legal technicality. They are a way of imagining the relationship between peoples. Between people. People who may disagree or dislike each other or, in fact, know nothing about each other.

What is PEN? Why do we exist? Because literature and freedom of expression are a way of imagining civilization. How do we live together? Through words.

sep 072012


Fanatikere i den bedste sendetid, - naivt eller nødvendigt?

Med støtte fra fonden Frit Ord og den Norske Ambassade i Danmark indbyder Fondet for Dansk-Norsk Samarbejde i efteråret på en tematiseret møderække, med fokus på de grundlæggende spørgsmål og dilemmaer som de åbne nordiske demokratier står overfor, i mødet med politiske og religiøse ekstremistiske grupper og politisk motiveret vold.


Det første møde i rækkes handler om hvordan det onde afspejles i kunsten.


Kunst og terror, etik og ytringsfrihed


Hvordan behandles det onde i litteraturen, i billedkunsten, på film og teater?

Et panel bestående af kunstnere og eksperter diskuterer hvordan spektakulære begivenheder behandles i kunsten og om der er - og bør være - etiske og moralske grænser for ytringsfriheden, når det gælder kunstens behandling af begivenheder, som eksempelvis terrorangrebet i Oslo og på Utøya den 22. juli 2011. Kort sagt, hvordan afspejles verdens ondskab gennem kunsten?


Kai Johnsen, afgående kunstnerisk leder af Dramatikkens Hus i Oslo. Teatret opsætter senere på året dramatikeren Christian Lollikes omdiskuterede teaterstykke baseret på massemorderen Anders Bering Breiviks manifest. Kai Johnsen og Dramatikkens Hus har samarbejdet med Lollike om udvikling af forestillingen.


Karstein Volle, norsk tegneserieskaber, der i tegneseriebogen ”Bedre folk” tager begreber som nationalisme, identitet og gruppetilhørsforhold under behandling, og også kommer ind på massakren på Utøya, men bevidst undgår at fokusere på Breivik. Faren er, siger Volle, at vi giver ham det han vil have, opmærksomhed, men det er nødvendigt, at kunsten bearbejder det onde.


Bogen er ét af næsten 40 projekter om 22/7, der ind til nu er støttet af den norske fond Frit Ord.


Inger Thorun Hjelmervik, norsk lektor ved Institut for Nordisk Studier på Københavns Universitet. Kunsten og litteraturen kan måske hjælpe os med at begribe det ufattelige. I litteraturen optræder personer og begivenheder, der kan overføres på virkeligheden og dermed hjælpe os med at bearbejde og forstå fx terrorangrebet på Utøya, siger Hjelmervik.


Niels Bonde, dansk billedkunstner, der bl.a. med udstillingen Attention i 2009 inddrog en række spektakulære begivenheder som terror og massemord i sine kunstværker, for at gøre opmærksom på hvordan den daglige mediestrøm faldbyder krig, vold og terror. Ifølge Bonde kan kunsten fastfryse begivenhederne og få os til at standse op, tænke og tale om det.


Anne Middelboe Christensen, journalist og teateranmelder ved dagbladet Information indleder og styrer debatten.




Mandag den 10. september kl. 20.00 – 22.00.


Schæffergården, Caféen, Jægersborg Allé 166, Gentofte.




Arrangementet er gratis og åbent for alle, men vi anbefaler tilmelding, da der er begrænset plads.


Husk også, at man på Restaurant Wohlert kan nyde en god middag forud for arrangementet.


Tilmelding samt bordbestilling på tlf.: 39 77 28 00.

Kontakt: Programansvarlig, daglig leder af Dansk PEN Mille Rode ( eller 40 45 44 19)


Med venlig hilsen

Mille Rode, journalist


Daglig leder af Dansk PENs sekretariat og programansvarlig for Fondet Dansk-Norsk Samarbejdes program i efteråret 2012